Before the Sierra Club’s New Director Invites Guests Over, He Needs to Clean House
I don’t envy Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s new executive director, the task of cleaning up the joint after his predecessor, Carl Pope, trashed it. Under Pope’s misrule, what had been a powerful force for good under David Brower devolved into a top-heavy enforcer of Pope’s infallibility. Pope’s 17-year reign saw the club’s board and Washington headquarters deformed into defenders of the faith–faith in Carl. When the apostate Glen Canyon chapter opposed the eco-catastrophe we call the Iraq War, Carl’s Board threatened it with mass organizational destruction. Why? You see, under Pope, the club joined the amen choir “supporting efforts to strip Iraq’s efforts of mass destruction.” Yep, the club’s Pope foresaw the weapons we never found. I blame divine inspiration. The Glen Canyon eco-heretics spoke out against Pope’s hymn to war. I guess the Peace Devil made them do it.
When he wasn’t blessing Bush’s wars of aggression, Pope ordained the Sierra Club would sell its name to Clorox, the megacorp that relies upon mass production of chlorine, resulting in mass pollution with highly toxic chlorinated chemicals. When the club’s Florida chapter dissented, Pope’s doctrinal enforcers defrocked the chapter’s elected leaders and punished the 35,000 heretics in the Florida chapter with a four-year excommunication. Worst of all for our future and the biosphere’s, Pope’s club struck a deal with the Carbon Devils: The club has now lined up alongside some of the planet’s biggest carbon polluters to push the climate energy bill that revokes Americans’ right for the EPA to protect them from coal-fired power plants’ planet-roasting pollution.
All of this happened before the Rainforest Action Network’s former executive director, Michael Brune, stepped up three months ago as the first executive director of the post-Pope Sierra Club’s enlightenment era. I’ve known many good peeps at RAN for years, and despite some unconscionable compromises by RAN’s leadership, RAN’s also done some very good work. I don’t know Michael, but people I trust and respect gave me hope he’d make a real difference. I’ve hoped Michael would turn the Sierra Club’s national leaders and headquarters away from serving the corporate world, and return them to serving the living world.
So, while I’m pleased to see Michael wants to welcome Jane Hamsher and other progressives to the Sierra Club under his watch, I’m waiting for Michael to do what any good host does before he throws a housewarming party: clean the house.
The club’s a big place, and with only three months in residence, Michael might not have come across all the areas he and the leadership need to fumigate before the place is fit for visitors.
Michael, I’m sure you’re very busy. To help you out, here’s a short list.
(1) Abrogate the Clorox greenwash. Pull the marketing agreement. And never, ever compromise with Big Poison again. It’s the Sierra Club, not the Suicide Club.
(2) Fire all paid staff who supported the Clorox sellout and publicly demand the resignation of all board members who voted for or supported same. Which means bye-bye, Pope (who now serves as Sierra’s chair).
If they don’t quit? That’s the clue that they’ve brought you in to be a figurehead, Michael. Write your own resignation letter and get out before the club destroys your reputation along with its own.
(3) Withdraw the Sierra Club’s support for:
–Any legislation that obstructs Americans’ right to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants;
–Any legislation that diverts billions from proven fossil-free energy development to bribe the Carbon Kings (bye-bye, “clean coal”);
–Any legislation that diverts billions from proven fossil-free energy to the market failure called nuclear energy.
Yep Michael: This means you and the Sierra Club would actually be opposing Obama’s latest deadly cave-in: his energy giveaway. It also means you’d need to have a long talk with the club’s chief appeaser lobbyist on the American Power Act. He’s willing to squander billions on nukes and clean coal and sacrifice America’s right to regulate greenhouse gases from King Coal.
Are you okay with that, Michael? Are you okay with gutting the EPA’s real power to protect our future from coal-fueled destruction in return for a Cap’n Trade pirate scam that NASA’s James Hansen warns us won’t stop global warming?
Michael, is that why you left Rainforest Action Network—to collude with Massey Energy, BP and Goldman Sachs in roasting the Amazon basin and the boreal forests?
(4) Withdraw the club’s endorsement of Ken Salazar, who had a long career selling out the West’s resources before Obama picked him to preside over Interior’s sellout of America’s resources. If somehow you don’t know of Salazar’s ruinous history, Jeffrey St. Clair at Counterpunch laid it out for all of us.
By almost any standard, it’s hard to imagine a more uninspired or uninspiring choice for the job than professional middle-of-the-roader Ken Salazar, the conservative Democrat from Colorado. This pal of Alberto Gonzalez is a meek politician, who has never demonstrated the stomach for confronting the corporate bullies of the west: the mining, timber and oil companies who have been feasting on Interior Department handouts for the past eight years. Even as attorney general of Colorado, Salazar built a record of timidity when it came to going after renegade mining companies.
Longtime Sierra Club observer Michael Donnelly called out the club on this mess. Repudiating the endorsement will show the club’s potential supporters that under your leadership, Michael, the club is again caring for the ecosphere, and turning away from eco-cidal pols.
The Napoleonic Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, representative of the rest of the Dem-captive Big Greens, had this whopper to say about Obama’s Napoleonic Interior Secretary: “The Sierra Club is very pleased with the nomination of Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department. As a Westerner and a rancher, he understands the value of our public lands, parks, and wildlife and has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s reckless efforts to sell off our public lands to Big Oil and other special interests.”
Of course, as the new ED your housecleaning to-do list includes summarily firing all the staffers who concurred in the club’s hagiography for this professional eco-exploiter. Yesterday.
Michael, now that you’re the club’s ED, you have a choice. You can do the hard work required to clean away years of collaboration with mega-polluters and publicly repudiate Pope’s flacking for the worst players in Washington and the Village.
Or you can follow Obama’s “looking forward” ruse and leave the club’s messes festering for all your potential supporters to see–and smell. And continue the ruse of feigning surprise when your potential guests point out the reeking vapors flowing out the door you hold open.
If you intended your public invite to Jane as a welcome to all progressives, thanks. I’ll get back to you.
Let me know how the cleanup goes.